Indoor Allergies and their Prevention
Dr. Amy Movius
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Allergy symptoms are often associated with blooming trees and shrubs and the increase of pollen this brings. Pollen is a very important source of allergies but there are others, some of them indoors. People are especially prone to these indoor allergies from early school age to young adulthood. In Maine’s climate, wintertime means being indoors constantly and so these allergies may worsen. Symptoms include clear runny/stuffy nose, itchy/watery/red eyes, sneezing, and scratchy throat. In more severe cases cough, wheezing and chest tightness may occur. Fortunately, there are easy ways to reduce the incidence and severity of indoor allergies.
The most common sources of indoor allergies are house dust, dust mites, pet dander, molds and cockroaches (yes, cockroaches). House dust is an airborne mix that varies from place to place. It depends on the age/type of your home, its temperature and humidity, and its contents and occupants. Dust mites feed on dead skin cells and are common in beds/bedding, furniture, and clothing. Dander is tiny particles of dead animal skin. Molds thrive in heat and humidity and will grow on most any surface. Cockroaches (more common than we’d like to think) dry and break apart after death, and these particles get into the air.
Besides the many over-the-counter and prescription medications for allergy symptoms, there are ample opportunities for prevention. These easy steps may reduce or eliminate the hassle of indoor allergy symptoms.
1. Use high efficiency air filters. Don’t forget to clean or change the filters!
2. Clean air ducts yearly.
3. Limit/eliminate pet exposure.
4. Keep firewood outside.
5. Limit indoor plants.
6. Wash shower curtains/bathroom tiles with mold-killing solution.
7. Place dehumidifiers in basements or other damp places.
8. Limit throw rugs, and make sure those you have are washable.
9. Choose wood floors over carpet if possible. Choose shades over blinds or drapes.
10. Use plastic casing over pillows, mattresses and box springs.
11. Wash bedding in hot water weekly.
12. Vacuum twice weekly.
13. Prohibit smoking in the home.
There are many excellent resources on the internet for those interested in more information on this subject.